Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Wonders of Tumeric (or How I Fooled My Family)

Tumeric is everywhere. I can’t get away from it.

My mother-in-law was here visiting for two weeks and she told me how she takes it daily for her arthritis. I took a pottery class last week and the teacher said the same thing. I can’t open a magazine without seeing mention of it and many of the blogs and websites I follow fall over themselves to fawn over it.

To be honest, turmeric is new to me. I hadn’t heard of it until it started turning up in processed food as a natural coloring to replaced artificial colors. It’s bright mustard yellow. I could sort of remember seeing it in Indian food recipes. I’m not a big fan of Indian food, so the tiny little jar of turmeric I found in the back of my cupboard was from the original set of herbs I got at a wedding shower 20 years ago. I opened it and sniffed, but it smelled like the plastic jar it was in.

So I stopped by one of my favorite sources for spices (Park Street Pantry) and bought a fresh jar in a glass container. 
But what do I do with it? And what’s so great about it?

Tumeric is a tropical plant. It grows from root cuttings, not seeds and takes 250 days to harvest! It won’t stand for temperatures below 65 degrees, so that leaves out New Freedom, PA so I guess there will be no forthcoming post How-to-grow-your-own-tumeric-and-make-a-million (It’s the top selling herbal supplement as of press time).

Tumeric is closely related to ginger. In fact, it’s taste is described as “peppery, warm, and bitter” while it’s scent is similar to ginger. When I open the lid of my little jar, I smell Indian restaurants.

I searched in vain for a recipe for dish that my little finicky family might enjoy and finally opted for simply sprinkling it in recipes we already eat. You don’t even notice the taste. During our Super Bowl Commercial viewing party, I made this dip which was scrumptious with carrots, lightly steamed green beans, pretzels, cheese sticks, and tortilla chips.

Yummo Mustard Dip 

¾ cup sour cream
1 teaspoon agave nectar
3 Tablespoons Dijon mustard (less if you can’t handle the heat!)
1 teaspoon turmeric

Mix ingredients together and serve with pretty much anything!

Next I slipped a teaspoon in to the mac n cheese and although the color was shocking yellow, no one noticed anything odd (except me, I was certain I could taste it and had to work very hard on my nope-it-wasn’t-me face). 

Yup, we're having Mac n Cheese sauce just like any other night.....
But Wait! What's this? Magical tumeric?!
And now it's not just plain ole Mac n Cheese, it's Super-Powerful-Tumeric-Infused Mac n Cheese sacue!
I’m planning to slip it into tonight’s crab chowder and this weekend’s jalepeno-cheese grits. I’ll continue to increase the dosage and let you know when I reach maximum density.

But why? Why would I secretly dose my family with turmeric?

OMG. Tumeric is the uber-herb.

It is used all over the world in medicines to treat arthritis, heartburn, stomach pain, diarrhea, gas, bloating, jaundice, liver problems and gallbaladder disorders. It’s also used for headaches, bronchitis, colds, lung infections, leprosy (true), fever, menstrual problems, and cancer. Must I go on? It’s used to treat depression, Alzheimer’s, kidney problems, plus topically for skin problems including ringworm and infected wounds.

Tumeric works wonders because it is a natural anti-inflammatory that works throughout the body. The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, and studies show curcumin can dissolve the amyloid plaques that are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s. It’s widely used in India and the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease is relatively low in India. Tumeric has also shown promising results in studies to treat depression.

Bottom line, there is much reason for all the fuss about turmeric. I, for one, am a new fan.
I figure finding ways to add turmeric to our family’s diet is worth the effort. It is available in pill form in the vitamin section at the store, but like with anything you put in your body – know what you’re eating and why. Check with your doctor before taking any supplements.

Like this post? Want to read more like it? Check out my book, Live Intentionally: 65 Challenges for a Healthier, Happier Life
Even the dog's excited about tumeric!

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